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FILE - A patron exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at the Henley Vaporium in New York. (Representational image). VOA

Tobacco use, particularly smoking, exacts a heavy toll in India every week but the government move to ban e-cigarettes while allowing sale of normal cigarettes does not seem justified, cancer experts said.

Addressing a press meet organised by bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation, Riccardo Polosa of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine at Italy’s University of Catania, Ron Borland, Professor of Psychology at the University of Melbourne, and Sameer Kaul, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology & Robotics at the Apollo Cancer Institute here, questioned the ban on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) in the country.

Claiming that the Indian Council of Medical Research white paper shows “a high probability of bias”, they asked why it recommended a complete ban on e-cigarettes for the “greater interest of protecting public health” but not on traditional cigarettes.

Policy-making should be based on scientifically sound evidence and where such evidence is in nascent stages, efforts must be focused on speeding up or encouraging research, they said. Kaul announced a nation-wide, cross sectional, randomized study on Indian subjects, led by bcbpf-The Cancer Foundation, of which he is the founder President.

Saying it was important to “document the well-known damaging effects of smoking against the risks and harm reduction potential of e-cigarettes”, he said that the ban of e-cigarettes that have “proven social, economic and health benefits over combustible cigarettes, is not justified”.

Customers puff on e-cigarettes at the Henley Vaporium in New York City. VOA

“ENDS present an excellent opportunity for India to accelerate a decline in smoking rates and adult smokers who want to quit but may be unable to, have the right to be able to access harm reduction alternatives such as ENDS,” he added.

The three experts recently co-authored and published a scientific evidence based critical appraisal of the ICMR white paper, in the Indian Journal of Clinical Practice.

Polosa said that the ICMR paper “presented an uncritical evaluation of evidence gathered from poor quality studies”, and they sought to make “a detailed, critical appraisal of all existing evidence on ENDS” in a bid to “convince ICMR to reconsider their recommendation for a complete prohibition of the category”.

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He said many reputed scientific institutes now acknowledge that ENDS pose significantly less health risk compared to traditional cigarettes or bidis. As many as 69 countries, like the UK and Canada, have regulated ENDS while the UAE has reversed its ban.

Borland said that e-cigarettes are an “important tool” for smokers to reduce their risk and this opportunity to improve public health will be lost if India continues to bans e-cigarettes. (IANS)



As the economy continues to recover from the prolonged pandemic.

By Rohit Vaid
The Centre might bestow infrastructure as well as industry status to new sectors to boost several pandemic hit industries in the upcoming Union Budget. Industry insiders said that several sectors and sub-industries such as hospitality, automobile retail, specific diganotics facilities and companies engaged in installation of EV charging stations amongst others might get the status.
The infra tag will enable these sectors to avail tax breaks, incentives and credit on lower interest rates. "Sectors which are in greenfield or which would need capex augmentation to help them overcome the pandemic can be looked from the lens of an infrastructure sector," said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Director and Practice Leader, Transport & Logistics, Crisil Infrastructure Advisory. "Also many of the already identified sectors need a sustained policy push which will help them get visibility both in terms of quantum and the time period of applicability."

Till now, activities associated with laying of power and telecom transmission and distribution lines, roads, highways, railways and construction of facilities such as hospitals, affordable housing, power generation units, water treatment plants, SEZs and certain type of hotels amongst others were given such status.

Besides, these sectors are a part of harmonised master list for infrastructure sub-sectors. However, in April 2021, exhibition-cum-convention centre was included in the list. "Given the focus around electric vehicle, and need for significant investment in charging stations, if the government adds the sector in infrastructure list, the benefits arising out of it will be significant," said Vishal Kotecha, Director, India Ratings and Research. "Infra tag on sectors increases ability to raise funds, access to dedicated funds and lenders, foreign capital, lower interest rates among others."

Electric car Given the focus on electric vehicles, the advantages of including the industry in the infrastructure list will be enormous. Free SVG

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A team is working to produce safest medicine for covid treatment.

A team led by chief scientist Ravi Shankar, is working on two combinations to provide the safest medication to coronavirus patients. "Experts say that a combination of antivirals with different mechanisms can be more effective to counter the viral pandemic. We are working on two combinations - Umifenovir with Molnupiravir (an antiviral) and Umifenovir with Niclosamide (anti-parasitic)," he said.

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Molnupiravur drug has received only Emergency Use Authorisation in India and abroad. Though its usage showed reduced hospitalisation during clinical trials, its biggest drawback are the side-effects, he added.

"Now, we are trying to keep a low dosage of Molnupiravir in its combination with Umifenovir which may weed out the side-effects such as the risk of cartilage and muscle damage. If successful, it will make Umifenovir more effective in Covid-19 treatment," said the chief scientist. The other combination is Umifenovir with Niclosamide.

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Take a moment to reflect on how much more there is to be thankful for in this life than there is to be sad about.

"Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."
– Soren Kierkegaard

No matter what obstacles life throws at you, it always creates a means to overcome them, whether via determination, persistence, or both. With so many things going on in our lives, it is easy to forget to be grateful for the valuable life that we have been given. To remind people of the value of life, it was determined that there should be a day when people take a close look at their lives and be appreciative of the experiences and memories it has brought us.

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